The Outbreak of the Second World War: Design or Blunder?

By John L. Snell | Go to book overview

1
VICTORY'S VERDICT: BLUNDER THROWN
OUT OF COURT
THE NUREMBERG JUDGMENT

The Nuremberg trial of political and military leaders of Nazi Ger-
many and leading organizations of the Nazi state lasted from November
20, 1945, to October 1, 1946, when the four-power Tribunal rendered its
judgment. Defendants were tried on four charges: crimes against peace
"by planning, preparation, initiation, and waging of wars of aggression";
war crimes; crimes against humanity; and participation in a common
plan or conspiracy to commit all these crimes." Twelve Nazi leaders were
sentenced to death and several others to imprisonment, after some were
found guilty on all four counts and others on some of them. The Inter-
national Military Tribunal heard dozens of witnesses for and against the
defendants, and received depositions from thousands of others. As the
Tribunal itself reported, "Much of the evidence . . . on behalf of the
prosecution was documentary evidence. . . . The case, therefore, against
the defendants rests in a large measure on documents of their own mak-
ing, the authenticity of which has not been challenged except in one or
two cases." The judgment of October 1, 1946, from which this reading
is taken, was signed by all eight members and alternate members of the
Tribunal, including Major General I. T. Nikitchenko and Lt. Col. A. F.
Volchkov, member and alternate member of the Tribunal for the U.S.S.R.

DURING the years immediately following Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, the Nazi Government set about reorganizing the economic life of Germany, and in particular the armament industry. This was done on a vast scale and with extreme thoroughness.

It was necessary to lay a secure financial foundation for the building of armaments, and in April 1936, the defendant Goering was appointed coordinator for raw materials and foreign exchange, and empowered to supervise all state and party activities in these fields. In this capacity he brought together the War Minister, the Minister of Economics, the Reich Finance Minister, the President of the Reichsbank, and the Prussian Finance Minister to discuss problems connected with war mobilization, and on the 27th May 1936, in addressing these men, Goering opposed any financial limitation of war production and added that "all measures are to be considered from the standpoint of an assured waging of war." At the Party Rally in Nurnberg in 1936, Hitler announced the establishment of the Four-Year Plan and the appointment of Goering as the Plenipotentiary in charge. Goering was already engaged in building a strong air force and on the 8th July 1938, he announced to a number of leading German aircraft manufacturers that the German Air Force was already superior in quality and quantity to the English. On the 14th October 1938, at another conference, Goering announced that Hitler had

____________________
From Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression: Opinion and Judgment, published by the Office of United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality ( Washington, 1947), pp. 12-13, 16-21, 27-34.

-1-

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